Leading breakthrough

We believe everyone has barriers preventing them from living truly fulfilled lives

Our counseling focuses on individuals and families in need of change. As a team of therapists with diverse specialties, we are uniquely equipped to come alongside the whole family. We believe the greatest impact is made when the family is viewed as a unit.

Our coaching focuses on the executive development of leaders. We equip individuals to understand their own weaknesses and opportunities as leaders to help them best serve and manage those around them.

Our marriage intensives are intended for marriages in crisis or on the brink of failure. Intensives offer the greatest chance of healing for couples in distress. Our marriage retreats are intentionally designed to strengthen a couple's bond, allowing them to experience deeper levels of connection and satisfaction.

A Different Experience

High Quality Counseling

Our therapists are hand-picked not only for their expertise, but also their passion. They genuinely care about their clients and always strive for clinical excellence. To insure the highest quality counseling possible, LifeGate is not regulated by insurance networks. Our primary goal is to meet the needs of our clients, not navigate the red tape of insurance.

Intensive Programs

Our intensive program is one of a kind and truly transforms marriages, leaders, and families. By leveraging the blessing of a sequestered retreat environment, we can make a bigger impact and produce greater healing.

Real Counselors

We’re real people who have stories and struggles of our own. We have families, friends and hobbies and are actively engaged within our communities. We do not pretend to be experts on other people's lives. Instead, we come alongside those who are hurting, stuck or longing for change and empower them to reach their goals

Christian Worldview

Our Christian faith is our foundation. It informs how we view the world and our work. However, we never force spiritual exploration or faith-based topics. Instead, we allow our clients to choose if and how they integrate their faith into their therapy.

Ryan Jackson, Executive Director

Ryan Jackson, Executive Director

Executive Director and Director of Marriage Intensives

Marriage Therapist, Consultant, Speaker

Ryan came to The LifeGate Group from California in 2011 to join the team as a Marriage and Family Therapist where he works with couples who are married, engaged, and dating. Additionally he sees individual adult clients seeking to get unstuck and live more whole-heartedly.

Email:  Ryan@LifeGategroup.org


Specific Focus

Clinical Therapy:

    • Creating safe space for couples to experience genuine connection with each other
    • Challenging men and women to live authentically and courageously
    • Facilitating honest conversations integrating Christian Faith with life in the here and now.


Ryan speaks for churches, schools, and organizations on the topics of marriage health and/or enrichment, team and community culture, self-care, and the integration of Christian faith with emotional maturity.



  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist


  • Pending certification as an Emotionally Focused Therapist
  • Certified Prepare-Enrich Counselor
  • Education
  • Point Loma Nazarene University-BA in Psychology
  • San Diego State University—MS in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Georgia Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)
Online Resources
Book Recommendations
  1. With- Skye Jethani
  2. Soul Keeping- John Ortberg
  3. The Meaning of Marriage- Tim Keller
  4. Hold Me Tight- Sue Johnson
  5. Safe Haven Marriage- Sharon Hart-Morris
  6. Reaching Out- Henri Nouwen
  7. Return of the Prodigal Son- Henri Nouwen
  8. Daring Greatly- Brene Brown
  • Snow Skiing
  • Golf
  • Volleyball
  • Watching the SF 49ers and Giants, the Warriors, Sharks, and Stanford Football
  • Time with my wife and 3 daughters
Melissa Sparks

Melissa Sparks

Eating Disorders Specialist

No longer accepting new clients.

Style of Therapy

Melissa takes a bio•psycho•social•spiritual approach to counseling and practices with openness and respect for individual and cultural differences.

She believes that a full recovery can be attained with appropriate emotional, physical, and spiritual intervention. She utilizes evidence-based treatments and often collaborates with a multidisciplinary team, including registered dietitians, physicians, psychiatrists, physical therapists, etc.

Treatment modalities include cognitive-behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical-behavior therapy, solution-focused therapy, and exposure with response prevention.


Email: Melissa@LifeGateGroup.org


Clinical Therapy

Individual, Couples, Family, Group, and Meal Coaching for Adolescents and Adults

  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder), body image concerns, compulsive exercise, etc.
  • Anxiety Disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Phobia)
  • General relationship concerns, career and life transitions, identity formation, self-esteem, depression, grief and loss, and pre-marital counseling

Melissa presents in schools, churches, seminars, and professional conferences on topics primarily related to eating disorder prevention and awareness. Recent presentations include the following list:

  • Eating Disorders 101 (for various middle schools and high schools)
  • How to Raise Intuitive Eaters (MOPS-Mom’s of Preschoolers)
  • Mom in the Mirror (MOPS-Mom’s of Preschoolers; co-presented with Kate Ferguson, LPC)
  • Escaping the Comparison Trap (Peachtree Presbyterian Church Women’s Ministry; co-presented with Miriam Ryan)
  • Depression and Cutting (for parents of a church youth group; co-presented with Susanne Stribling, PsyD)
  • Eating Disorder Panel (with a Registered Dietitian, Physician, Physical Therapist, and a person in recovery from an eating disorder)
  • Managing Relationship, Nutrition, and Sport Issues (The Renfrew Conference, Eating Disorder in Sport Conference; co-presented with Page Love, R.D.)
  • The Multidisciplinary Approach to treating Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (The National Eating Disorder Association Conference; co-presented with Carrie Poline, M.D., Ryan Schwerzmann, LMFT, and Eileen Shaw, R.D.)


M.A. – Marriage and Family Therapy, Richmont Graduate University

B.A. – Psychology with Religion Minor, Lee University


  • National Certified Counselor
  • Certified PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor

Professional Memberships

  • International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, Atlanta Chapter
  • American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists


Workbook Recommendations

  • The Food and Feelings Workbook by Karen R. Koenig LCSW
  • The Bulimia Workbook for Teens by by Lisa M. Schab LCSW
  • The Body Image Workbook by Thomas Cash PhD
  • The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook by McKay, Wood, & Brantley
  • The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne PhD
  • What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kids Guide to Overcoming OCD by Dawn Huebner

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole R.D & Elyse Resch R.D.

8 Keys to Recovery from and Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin MFT, M.ED

Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers, PsyD

Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer

Goodbye ED, Hello Me by Jenni Schaefer

Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston PhD

Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown

The Parents Guide to Eating Disorders by Marcia Herrin RD

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown PhD, LMSW

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown PhD, LMSW

The New Codependency by Melody Beattie

Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good by Miriam Adderholdt PhD

Brainlock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jeffrey Schwartz MD

Lisa Watts

Lisa Watts

Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Doctoral Candidate

Relationship & Intimacy Specialist

Email: Lisa@LifeGateGroup.org

About Lisa

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lisa has worked in the public and private sectors of mental health care, including four years of service as the Executive Director of a non-profit community mental health organization in Midtown, Atlanta.

Aside from her career at Lifegate, Lisa teaches psychology classes at the University of West Georgia. Her research interests include sex education for adults/parents, and the intersection of emotional intelligence, sexuality and mental health.

Practice Focus

Lisa has been trained traditionally as a social scientist with additional training in spiritually integrated psychotherapy. She works with individuals, couples, and groups in the following areas:

  • Communication in relationships
  • Relationship Coach
  • Pre-marital counseling
  • Marriage counseling
  • Sex education for adults & parents
  • Infidelity (individuals only; male & female)
  • Divorce support (pre/during/post)
  • Motherhood
  • Personal & professional harmony

P.h.D. Psychology (in progress): University of West Georgia

Masters of Social Work: Georgia State University

Dori Whitworth

Dori Whitworth

Licensed Professional Counselor

Hi and welcome.  I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about me and the kinds of counseling work that I do.  I feel fortunate in that I have met many individuals and couples who have come with their concerns; together we have  walked through the process of finding answers that were the best for them.  With over 20 years experience in the field , I have  learned that a good fit between therapist and client, where trust is developed, is one of the most important aspects of the therapeutic relationship. While I work with a broad range of counseling concerns, my areas of focus are highlighted below.    If you should have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.

Email: Dori@LifeGateGroup.org

Phone: (404) 842-3150


Phase of Life - concerns such as parenting for families with teens, or who have a child with learning differences or a behavior issue. Young professionals seeking career changes or middle age executives looking for a new direction.  I have added what I call Adaptive Aging for individuals wanting  to consider a different path in their later years or adult children with older parents needing to make life decisions for their care –which includes dementia and Alzheimers.

Adoption and Attachment -  Attachment both in adoption and biologically linked families has been identified as a cornerstone of maintaining the bonds of trust, gaining identity and self esteem, developing relationships with others and learning to regulate feelings among other attributes. Counseling intervention may help change ineffective ways of relating to others and lessen anxiety.

Couples - Premarital and couples counseling for marriages or intimate relationships in conflict or crisis.

ADHD  - counseling and support for adults with attention deficit disorder to help clarify where this may be getting in their way in relationships and work.

Addiction and Recovery Relationship Support – support for individuals and their families who are redefining family roles after treatment or with current AA attendance.

Sleep Health –  a new 7 week program that helps you correct and re establish healthy sleep patterns and learn how to understand sleep cycles and conquer insomnia.   Individual or group sessions when forming.

Brianna Bacorn

Brianna Bacorn

Staff Therapist


Play Therapy Specialist

Child & Adolescent Specialist

Adult Therapist



Email:  Brianna@LifeGategroup.org


Child Centered Play Therapy

I enjoy working with children and seeing their resilience to get through challenging situations. When children are placed in safe environments and given the chance to use their natural language of play, they are able to process and work through challenges in their daily lives. Children who are given the opportunity to work through their challenges when they are young are also less likely to experience mental health issues into their adulthood, equipping them to lead healthy and functional lives. It is wonderful to see kids process the world around them and learn to see the world in more helpful ways. I get to be a guide along the way.

Adolescent and Adult Clinical Therapy

  • Help people experience freedom from anxiety
  • Work through people’s life transitions from college to career
  • Guide people to live the lives they envision


  • Anxiety Disorders
  • General Anxiety
  • Social Anxiety
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Test Anxiety
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Physiological Manifestations of Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anger Management for Children and Adolescents
  • Divorce Transitions for Children


Licensed Clinical Social Worker


  • Florida State University- Master of Social Work
  • Florida State University- Bachelor of Social Work

Professional Memberships

  • National Association of Social Workers
  • Association for Play Therapy
Burke Buster

Burke Buster

Staff Therapist

I feel honored to walk alongside people in their journey toward change.

Email:  Burke@LifeGategroup.org

Therapy Focus
  • Life transitions
  • Couples: dating, engaged, married
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Adolescents
  • Grief
  • Anxiety


  • Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Georgia, LPC010430


  • Certified Prepare-Enrich Facilitator
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship
  • Restoration Therapy
  • Healing the Wounded Heart, Allender Center


  • Richmont Graduate University, MS in Professional Counseling
  • Auburn University, BA in Business Marketing
Therapy Experience

Atlanta Mission: Shepherds Inn, Therapist, 2014-2015

Hope Counseling Center, Therapist, 2014-2015

Ridgeview Institute, Access Center Clinician, 2015-2017

Lifegate Group, Staff Therapist & Marriage Intensive Co-Facilitator, 2015-present


Burke is a music enthusiast who has played with his band the Rusty Busters throughout the Southeast for the past four years. In addition to performing, he enjoys watching anything that has to do with Auburn athletics and fishing with his wife.

Mary Beth Pierce

Mary Beth Pierce

Licensed Professional Counselor

The decision to offer yourself care in the midst of pain is one of the kindest decisions you can make. My hope is to provide a place of honesty where you can pursue wholeness and restoration, and to guide you through your story to uncover the beauty that has been hidden. It would be an honor to hear your story and offer you care.

Email: marybeth@lifegategroup.org

Phone: (404) 842-3155


Mary Beth helps clients engage the impact of their story as they pursue healing in the following areas:

• Trauma
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Abuse
• Grief
• Relationship issues
• Spirituality
• Codependency
• Identity
• Spouses of addicts
• Sexuality



Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Georgia, LPC008990


MA, Marriage and Family Therapy, Richmont Graduate University 2012

BBA, Business Management, University of Georgia 2006


EMDR Basic Training, EMDR Institute

Advanced Counseling Trauma Certificate, Allender Center

School of Spiritual Direction, Newway Ministries, Dr. Larry Crabb

Certified PREPARE/ENRICH relationship assessment Facilitator


Mary Beth grew up in St. Simons Island, GA, and has lived in the Atlanta area for 11 years. She studied business management at UGA and began a career in business before shifting her focus to counseling 8 years ago. Her practice has been primarily in church settings and non-profits.

Mary Beth loves adventure and spending time outdoors, and enjoys snow skiing, kayaking, biking, and hiking with her Golden Retriever, Annie.

Emily Dressner

Emily Dressner

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Experiences change us.

Some experiences wound us, while others help us heal. With authenticity, empathy, and challenge, I join with clients to make therapy a space where healing experiences can take place. In therapy we will work together to identify dysfunctional patterns of relating and create new, healthier ones that are congruent with the person you want to be.

Most couples who enter my office are working through affair recovery, difficulty in conflict resolution and communication struggles, and intimacy concerns.

My work with individuals focuses on trauma and abuse recovery, codependency, spouses of sex addicts, family conflict, anxiety, grief, and sexual/relational concerns.

I am a trauma-informed clinician who approaches client issues systemically and experientially. This means I seek to understand and treat the effects traumatic experiences on client functioning while also understanding clients within the context of their larger family system. I am also trained in EMDR.

I believe deeply in my client’s capacity to grow and heal. It is an honor to watch God’s redemptive work unfold in the midst of broken stories.

  • Couples Therapy
  • Trauma
  • Abuse Recovery
  • Affair Recovery
  • Sexuality
  • Spouses of Sex Addicts
  • Codependency
  • Anxiety
  • Life Transitions
  • Grief
  • Family Conflict


Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of Georgia


MA, Marriage and Family Therapy, Richmont Graduate University

BA, Sociology, Berry College


EMDR Basic Training, EMDR Institute

Certified PREPARE/ENRICH relationship assessment Facilitator

Randy Eberhard

Randy Eberhard

Family Recovery and Career Counselor

Randy has worked with countless adults, adolescents and their families with an emphasis on career coaching, addiction and recovery. He has been a featured speaker to a variety of organizations, schools, and churches throughout the Atlanta area. Randy received training through various organizations including No Longer Bound in Cumming, Georgia, The Waypoint Center in Dahlonega, Georgia and the SHERPA Coaching Institute at the University of Georgia.

In his career coaching, Randy focuses on personal development through identifying individual strengths and working to overcome personal weaknesses. In his recovery work, he focuses on conflict resolution, relapse prevention, as well as general issues involving substance abuse and addiction to encourage and inspire his clients in their recovery. He also walks with families as they face conflict and grief.

When he is not working with clients, Randy serves as the Senior Area Director of Young Life.